Recent reports indicate an alarming increase in the levels of anxiety in our children. This is of course linked to the increase in anxiety and mental health issues across all age groups. Childhood should be fun, carefree, and filled with laughter and play. Too many kids are losing sight of these fundamentals and we need to make some considerable changes to reverse this trend.
We lead busy lives. We are the most connected we have ever been with technology at our fingertips and instant answers to the majority of questions. Attitudes in society have changed and expectations are often unreasonable. Parenting has changed and unfortunately our kids are paying a high price. Kids learn their habits and behavior from adults.
Research clearly shows that physical activity is an excellent way to reduce anxiety and stress. It releases endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals that lift mood, improve focus and enhance wellbeing. This works across all age groups. When we move with purpose the increased flow of blood and oxygen works wonders.
Awareness is the first step. As parents we need to look at how we react to situations that cause stress and what strategies we use to cope with increased stress levels. Exercise is the best medicine for dealing with increased stress and anxiety.
Kids can learn to deal with challenges in a positive manner from an early age. Whilst digital devices can be an easy option to calm a distressed child it is more effective for their long-term development to incorporate activities into their day that provide a natural calming effect. Outdoor play and activities provide a chance to run, jump, hop, skip, throw and catch which are all fundamental motor skills that improve with practice. Activity provides both physical and cognitive enhancements for development.
Increasing activity levels for both parents and children can help combat rising anxiety levels. Make regular trips to the park, go bike riding, just playing outdoors has a huge impact for children. Exercising together provides an amazing opportunity to have some fun and just enjoy being together in a relaxed environment. As parents it’s important to keep ourselves fit and healthy so that our kids can enjoy a happy and calm environment.
Simple modifications to daily life can provide huge benefits. Busy parents need to make time to exercise for their own wellbeing which will in turn benefit their kids. How we prioritise our time is within our control.